42 sweeps in 90 days and still volatile encampment plagues neighborhood

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite more than 40 sweeps in 90 days, a volatile homeless encampment remains a fixture in a busy Makiki neighborhood.

Less than 24 hours after city crews forced campers off the sidewalk on Young Street ― not far from Piikoi Street ― tents were back on Wednesday morning.

Blocked walkways often pose a hazard there.

But neighbors say recently that’s become the least of their worries.

“I literally call the police every other day,” said Tanya Benicta, who manages a business that backs up to the encampment. She said over the past year the trouble that used to be outside has found its way into her store.

“We had a shopping cart thrown through our front door,” she said. “We find needles and blood in our bathroom. Just a couple days ago we had a stabbing take place right in my loading dock.”

Benicta said the victim of the stabbing worked nearby.

“It was in the morning. And the guy was playing Pokemon Go. Just killing time before work," she said.

She said the suspect appeared to be high on drugs and slashed the victim after telling him he was bothering a woman sitting nearby.

“He had a decent-sized gash in his arm. Police came. Ambulance came,” said Benicta.

Signs warning residents of theft and to be on the lookout for crime have also gone up at an apartment building across the street.

One resident, who asked that his name not be used, said someone tried to steal his car from the garage Monday night.

“They had to use a slim jim or something because it was so clean,” he said. “The column shift, the gear shift was broken. I couldn’t get it started. Couldn’t get it to park. Couldn’t get nothing.”

Since the start of the year, the city says it’s swept the encampment on that particular section of the sidewalk 42 times.

But it seems that the city’s policy of so-called compassionate disruption has provided little relief.

“It’s definitely scary,” said Benicta. “My people can’t walk to work comfortably. They can’t catch the bus comfortably. It shouldn’t be like that.”

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